Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Boston Marathon bombs have local law enforcement reviewing policies

Law enforcement agencies in the Tampa Bay area, home to numerous outdoor events that draw large crowds, are reviewing security measures after the Boston bombing but said it's too early to tell whether the bombings will trigger heightened security.

"Like any situation that takes place, whether it be school shootings or things like that, it'll always prompt conversations within the law enforcement community," said St. Petersburg police spokesman Mike Puetz.

St. Petersburg is home to several events that draw large crowds, including the Mainsail festival this weekend and the St. Anthony's Triathlon later this month.

Puetz said police presence at most events is to direct traffic. More officers are assigned to concerts and festivals where people are prone to get into fights.

"The issue in any of these cases has never been one of great concern about terrorist activity," he said.

Tampa Bay will be able to learn from the bombings, but that's a long-term goal, said Tom Iovino, Pinellas County Emergency Management spokesman.

"It's still too early right now to go with changing our plans," he said. "What we're doing is looking at how hospitals are handling it, how law enforcement are handling it, the integration of state police with the FBI. We're still too early to start taking lessons. . . . We can say that the likelihood of a Boston Marathon-type (emergency) is low, but it's possible."

Iovino said he's studying how information was spread in events like the Sandy Hook, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., shootings.

After Hurricane Sandy, emergency management staff saw the importance of preparing warehouses to take in donations after a storm or other disaster.

Organizers of local marathon races also were contemplating the impact the bombing will have on their events.

Beth Hardy, spokesman for St. Anthony's Hospital, which hosts the upcoming St. Anthony's Triathlon, declined to reveal specifics about the security procedures.

"But we work closely with local law enforcement and have security on site and we will always revise our security procedures as things change," she said.

The triathlon, scheduled for April 28, will be celebrating its 30th year.

Officials with the Gasparilla Distance Classic Association were in Boston for the Sports and & Fitness Expo and the Boston Marathon.

"What happened this afternoon (Monday) is a blow to that innocence," the association released in a statement.

"Today was intended to be a day filled with the joy and celebration that typically surrounds the Boston Marathon. It quickly became a day in which running a marathon was of little importance."

In Hillsborough, Sheriff's Office spokesman Larry Mc-Kinnon said the agency doesn't anticipate to make any changes to its security measures for large events.

"We're not doing anything any different," he said. "We've already had security practices in place."

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